8 Cheap Ways to Make Your Small Business Look Professional
Molly Hitchens studied business for years before launching her career as a journalist and analyst specializing in original and innovative business planning. She shares her expertise through her work with The Idea Trader as well as through in-person speaking engagements at universities around the country.
When you’re short on cash but you want your small business to look professional, there are a few sneaky ways to do it. Launching a business on a budget is challenging, and yet, money doesn’t ensure success.
Here’s how you can promote your business professionally without draining your already tiny budget.
We proudly present 8 cheap ways to make your small business look professional.
1. Create a Business Email Account
Perhaps you already have a Gmail or Yahoo! email address. They work very well. However, it’s best for emailing your family or friends, not your potential employees or partners.
Have you ever noticed the addresses that other successful companies use when they email their customers? They look professional, right?
Consider creating a business email address on a reliable business-related email provider. Use your domain name and come up with a creative email address.
For instance, instead of traditional email@example.com, use firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for cheap options like Office 365 for Business or Google Apps for Business that will let you create a business-class email on a budget.
For further email tips, take a look at this article on how to end a formal email.
2. Open a P.O. Box
Most new entrepreneurs skip this step when trying to make their startups thrive. If you keep mentioning your actual address where you live for receiving letters and packages, you’re committing three huge mistakes.
Firstly, you reveal your actual address and thus unsatisfied customers, competitors, or thieves will know where you live. Secondly, your business doesn’t look professional this way. Thirdly, your letters and packages might be damaged due to weather.
It also illegal in some states to conduct business from a residential address.
Opening a P.O. box won’t cost you a lot, but it will make a positive impact on your startup, making it look more professional.
3. Have a Dedicated Number for Your Business
Just like your email address and P.O. box should be professional, your phone number should be business-related as well. Giving out your personal phone number will only cause you tons of problems and prevent you from having a work-life balance.
Not to mention that you can answer a customer’s or a potential partner’s call with an unprofessional voice or in a bad mood, believing that it’s your friend is calling.
If you don’t have money for a dedicated cell phone line, you can set up a Google Voice number for your business. It’s free and offers a number of functions.
The most wonderful perk of using Google Voice is that it routes all of your devices under one phone number.
4. Learn How to Take Photos
Nowadays, finding a photo is no problem, but there is no guarantee that you can use that picture you saved two minutes ago. Learn how to take your own photos and ensure they’re of the highest quality possible.
Challenge your smartphone and use it as one of the tools for making your small business look more professional.
If your smartphone has a weak camera or you have no time for taking photos, try to find a local or beginner photographer who won’t charge a lot but will be eager to gain experience and receive positive feedback.
Photos of your products or services in action are always welcome, as it shows how professional your company is.
5. Make Your Website Look Professional
Unless you’re a web designer, improving the design of your website can be a pain. Even if you try hard to do it by experimenting with different free pre-designed templates, you might end up wasting your time and nerves.
Leave this job for someone who is aware of how it all works. Web designers are expensive, so again, look for a beginner, college student, or just someone who can help you get a professional, beautiful, and usable website with little to no coding.
When customers visit your website for the first time, the first thing they pay attention to is definitely a design of your website. If it looks unprofessional, they’re less likely to buy your products or services.
6. Ensure Your Website Has a Contact Page and an About Us Page
Not making an About Us page is one of the biggest mistakes new and even successful entrepreneurs make that keep many customers away from their websites. There’s a misguided belief that people never read an About Us page.
In reality, they do check that page before offering your service or buying your products. If you don’t have this page or it’s empty, it certainly looks unprofessional.
A Contact page is a must-have, too. While it sounds obvious, new entrepreneurs either make this page hard to navigate to or forget to mention or update all their contacts.
It’s imperative that you react to all the concerns and questions your customers send you via a Contact page. Besides your phone and email, you can also add your P.O. box address. The more contact options you mention, the more professional your website will look.
7. Consider Business Cards
Whether you offer your services online or you have your own office, having business cards will make your small business look a lot more professional.
Business cards are cheap, though if you’re extremely tight on cash, you can create your own ones by using samples you can find online. Just print them professionally and carry them wherever you go.
8. Use Larger Invoice Numbers
In case you need to send out invoices and quotes to customers, begin with larger numbers. It will give the appearance of a successful business that has been on the market for a long while. The larger invoice numbers facilitate customers’ confidence and trust.
Using small invoice numbers like 8 or 17 will make your customers feel like you’ve been on the market for a few days and this may scare them away.
There are a lot of invoicing solutions, including Quickbooks and PayPal that let you select your starting invoice number while keeping all the invoices organized for your bookkeeping or accounting needs.
You don’t need thousands or millions to make your business look professional, especially if it’s small.
The aforementioned tips have been working wonders for new entrepreneurs for decades and they cost little to no money.